The 2008 East Carolina University football season was nothing if not exciting for the Pirate Nation. After beginning the season with back-to-back wins over national powers Virginia Tech and the University of West Virginia, the Pirates were the darlings of college football, reaching as high as 14th in the polls. Then a rash of injuries and three straight losses dashed the hopes of a perfect season and a run at the Conference USA championship.
Or did they?
As one prominent college football luminary is fond of saying, “Not so fast, my friend.” With so many injuries, the team was forced to play young and inexperienced players at several key positions. It is a testament to Skip Holtz and his coaching staff, and the senior leadership of captains Patrick Pinkney, Zack Slate, and Pierre Bell, that the Pirates finished strong and ended the regular season atop the Conference USA east division standings. A showdown with the University of Tulsa was all that separated ECU from the Conference-USA crown.
The underdog Pirates’ 27–24 win over the Golden Hurricane on December 6 earned them their first-ever Conference USA championship, and the football program’s first championship of any kind since 1976.
The Pirates will represent Conference USA in the 50th annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee, on January 2, 2009, where they will battle the Wildcats of the University of Kentucky.
Good luck, Pirates, and congratulations on an unforgettable season!